Harrisonburg couple authors personal memoir about prom night murders

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -— A Harrisonburg couple recently published a true crime memoir – and it is personal.

Ed and Mindy Morrison wrote "Bad Moon Rising: The Prom Night Murders Memoir." PHOTO: Credit | Ed Morrison

Ed and Mindy Morrison tell the story of the brutal murders of Ed's brother, Mike, and Mike's girlfriend in 1969.

"Some of the words in Bad Moon Rising is 'Don't go round tonight, they're bound to take your life, there's a bad moon on the rise,'" said Ed.

He said "Bad Moon Rising" was a song his brother listened to as he walked out the door to his senior prom — a prom which he never returned home from. The song inspired Mindy and Ed's book about the murders.

"Mike would've graduated as co-valedictorian. He was going to play football at Southern Illinois University, he was a math wiz," Ed remembered.

Mike Morrison and Debbie Means left for prom in May of 1969. Later that night, they were murdered and their bodies were found days later.

Ed said from the day they were discovered missing, he kept a scrapbook of newspaper clippings to show his sons one day. That scrapbook helped him to start a short story, which he eventually turned into a book.

"It was tough to write. It was a rollercoaster, and there were times I wanted to quit," said Ed.

Mindy, a retired teacher, took the reigns at points when writing became too difficult for Ed. The couple said he found out the facts, and she made it possible for a reader to go on the journey with him.

The book is not only about the prom night murders. The Morrisons said that the book takes a deeper look into the judicial system, how victims were treated, forgiveness, friendships, and family relationships.

Ed's family was shocked when they found out the murderer, Marshall Wayne Stauffer, was able to take a plea deal and was not convicted for the murders. Ed said he and his dad found out with the rest of the community while watching the news one evening.

"We were left in the dark, and the book tells about how the judicial system really failed our family," said Ed.

The couple worked with a local psychiatrist, who studied notes from the murderer and spoke with other professionals to figure out more about the man.

"He said he was probably a psychopath, but he was the worst of the worst," said Mindy.

Ed and Mindy are hoping to make a difference with their book. The proceeds from it will go toward the Means-Morrison Scholarship Fund Inc., at Mascoutah Community High School. Each year, a scholarship is awarded to a male and female senior in honor of Mike and Debbie.

"I feel like I'm finally doing something for my brother after all these years to honor him," said Ed.

They also worked to find Stauffer's DNA, and are working with others to try to solve an unsolved murder case in Missouri.

The couple said they want people to take more away from this book than just another true crime story.

"To understand how fragile life can be, that you don't always have tomorrow," said Mindy.

Ed and Mindy will have an official book launch and discussion at Bluestone Vineyard on August 17 at 4:00 p.m.

"Bad Moon Rising: The Prom Night Murders Memoir" is available at the Harrisonburg Barnes and Noble, online at Barnes and Noble, and on Amazon.